Applying Theoretical Frameworks to the Recruitment and Retention of Underrepresented Students in the Geosciences

Nicole Ladue, Caitlin N. Callahan, Lorenzo Baber, Julie M. Sexton, Katrien J. Van Der Hoeven Kraft, Eboni M. Zamani-gallaher

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


National graduation rates of underrepresented minorities (URM) in the geosciences continue to lag behind that of other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics degrees, despite decades of investment into broadening participation in the geosciences. Successful programs have had local success but have not scaled up and shifted the demographics of the community as a whole. We applied Astin’s Input-Environment-Output (IEO) framework to categorize the literature on broadening participation published in the Journal of Geoscience Education (JGE) between 2007 and present. This effort revealed a shift from programs reporting only one or two components of the IEO framework to those reporting multiple components by evaluating attributes of incoming participants (I), structuring a program environment to target specific variables impacting retention (E), and evaluating the program’s impact on pre-determined dependent variables (O), with or without a control group. The utilization of a complete IEO model for program assessment increases the likelihood of identifying strategies that work for specific populations. To support the geoscience community in promoting the access and success of URM in the geosciences, we review a sample of theoretical frameworks that have been applied to understanding the recruitment and retention of URM in science. This effort supports knowledge building about what works and for whom. The theoretical frameworks we reviewed were self-efficacy, identity, microaggressions, stereotype threat, and social cognitive career theory. Self-efficacy theory explains the circumstances under which someone gains confidence in an academic task. Identity is a complex interaction between one’s self-concept and the social context in which one exists. Microaggressions are actions, both verbal and nonverbal that harm, demean, and/or invalidate a person based on their racial identity. Stereotype threat is related to one’s self-efficacy and identity and occurs when someone’s underperformance is caused by negative stereotypes. Social cognitive career theory describes the major personal and contextual factors associated with selecting a major and career and how those factors serve as supports or barriers. Examples for applying each framework to geoscience program design will be discussed.
Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - 2017
Event2017 GSA Annual Meeting - Seattle, United States
Duration: Oct 22 2017Oct 25 2017


Conference2017 GSA Annual Meeting
Country/TerritoryUnited States


Dive into the research topics of 'Applying Theoretical Frameworks to the Recruitment and Retention of Underrepresented Students in the Geosciences'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this